who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. Jeb Bush Praises Obama’s Expansion of NSA Surveillance
2. More than a million people
have used food banks in past
A Gut-Kick to the Progressive Movement
4. Generation Snowden: On Why
Surveillance Reform Is
5. The Canadian Ministry of
"Truth": "Reality Is Whatever
We Say It Is"
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, April 22,
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about an article by Glenn
Greenwald on the many deep sympathies between the Democrats and the
Republicans; item 2 is about an article in the
Guardian about the steep increase in Britons - 1.1 millions lately -
who must rely on foodbanks under
David Cameron's Tory government; item 3 is about
the fast track, that will continue in the U.S. to favor the rich at the
cost of the poor; item 4 is an
article by the director of the ACLU that I found too optimistic; and item 5
is about a good piece on Canada's growing and growing totalitarianism,
that also allows me to sketch some of my - quite extensive -
experiences with studying at a (leftist) totalitarian university (and
you may skip my experiences, but they are quite true and were very
bitter, for me).
1. Jeb Bush Praises Obama’s Expansion of NSA
item today is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as
One of the most
glaring myths propagated by Washington — especially the two parties’
media loyalists — is that bipartisanship is basically impossible, that
the two parties agree on so little, that they are constantly at each
other’s throats over everything. As is so often the case for Washington
partisan propaganda, the reality is exactly the opposite: from trade
deals to Wall Street bailouts to a massive National Security and Penal
State, the two parties are in full agreement on the bulk of the most
significant D.C. policies (which is why the leading candidates of the
two parties (from America’s
two ruling royal families) will have the
same funding base).
Yes, indeed: quite so. I
realize this is diffficult to swallow for many progressives (let's
say), but I think it is quite true - which also
means that the many and the poor have little to expect and much to fear
from either party (although it is still
true that there is a little more to expect from the Democrats than from
the candidates of the Republicans).
Glenn Greenwald has a piece of evidence that is quite strong: This is a
quote of Jeb Bush talking to conservative radio host Michael Medved:
There is a little more
in the quotation, but to read that you have to click on the dotted link
in this item.
If you were to look back at the last seven years, almost, what has been
the best part of the Obama administration?
Jeb Bush: I
would say the best part of the Obama administration would be
his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big
metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced. Advancing this —
even though he never defends it, even though he never openly admits it,
there has been a continuation of a very important service, which is the
first obligation, I think of our national government is to keep us safe.
Here is the last part of the article:
The cause of NSA
mass surveillance has been particularly embraced by many Democrats
because it was Obama doing it (as I’ve said before, if Edward Snowden
had leaked this information when a Republican was in the Oval Office,
there would be a massive statue erected of him outside of the MSNBC
studios, where he is now often vilified). And now, Jeb Bush (in
contrast to Rand Paul, who vowed
to end NSA spying “on Day One”) has declared himself fully in support
of that cause, hailing Obama for expanding these capabilities.
Actually, I don't know
that "if Edward Snowden
had leaked this information when a Republican was in the Oval Office,
there would be a massive statue erected of him outside of the MSNBC
Of course, Glenn Greenwald may be right (and anyway the question is a
mere hypothetical), but given that (i) most of the Senators and House
members do what their lobbyists tell them to do, and (ii) the NSA makes
the American government extremely powerful, and in full
control of everyone (in principle),
I would not have been very amazed if many of the Democrats still would
supported the NSA.
But then again, the question is merely hypothetical and counterfactual.
2. More than a million people have used food
banks in past year
item is an article by Patrick Butler on The Guardian:
Thus starts as
I sincerely thank David
Cameron and the Conservatives for a 25-fold raise in Britains
using food banks. These anyway cater to over a million Britains
that are much better dead (in the Conservatives honest opinions: they
do not contribute anything to the incomes of the rich), and if
the Conservatives have any luck, they may starve them all in the next 5
More than 1 million
people, including rising numbers of low-paid workers, were forced to
use food banks in the last 12 months, challenging claims that the
dividends of Britain’s economic recovery are being equally shared.
The latest figures from
the Trussell Trust, which coordinates a network of
food banks in the UK, show a 19% year-on-year increase in food bank
users, demonstrating that hunger, debt and poverty are continuing to
affect large numbers of low-income families and individuals.
Nearly 1.1 million people
received at least three days of emergency food from the trust’s 445
food banks in 2014-15 – up from 913,000 the previous year.
Back in 2009-10, before the
Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition took power, the then
little-known charity fed 41,000 people from its 56 food banks.
Here is some more on the evident excellence of Cameron's Tory
Rest assured: With
continued Tory government most of these may not live when another five
years have passed: There are far too many non-deserving poor,
and not quite enough deserving mega-rich.
Chris Mould, the Trussell
Trust chairman, said the figures showed many people were experiencing
“catastrophic” problems as a result of low incomes, despite signs of a
wider economic recovery. He said: “These needs have not diminished in
the last 12 months.”
Experts warned that the
figures were the “tip of the iceberg” of food poverty in the UK, while
doctors said the inability of families to buy enough food had become a
public health issue.
Conservative to starve the British poor!
(I am sorry: I can't
treat this non-satirically, if indeed that is what I imply it
A Gut-Kick to the Progressive Movement
item is an article by Sarah Anderson on Common Dreams:
This has the following
administration's push to ram massive new trade and investment deals
through Congress is an unambiguous concession to corporate power.
The article itself starts as
As I have said before,
for me these "extreme
herald the arrival of fascism,
which is classically defined as arriving when the corporations
have taken control the government. You do not believe that? You are
welcome to your opinion but consider what is now
happening under previous "trade pacts":
In a move that elicited a
collective groan from virtually all of progressive America, the Obama
administration and congressional Republicans reached
a deal on April 16 on so-called “fast track” trade authority. This
is the legislation needed to ram new trade agreements through the U.S.
Congress with limited debate and no amendments.
It was a gut-kick for
labor unions and environmental, consumer, human rights, and other
groups that have long called for a change of course on U.S. trade
policy. Instead, the fast track legislation shows we’re still stuck in
the same old failed model of the 1990s. The bill lays out trade policy
objectives that elevate the narrow interests of large corporations and
undercut efforts to support good jobs, the environment, and financial
Nowhere is this corporate
bias more explicit than in the “investor-state” dispute settlement
mechanism. In fact it would be hard to find in any U.S. policy a
stronger example of excessive power granted to large corporations.
Under this mechanism, private foreign investors are allowed to sue
governments in international tribunals over actions — including public
interest regulations — that reduce the value of their investments. The fast
track bill makes clear that future trade agreements
will continue to grant this extreme corporate privilege.
You would think
the proliferation of such “investor-state” suits in recent years would
give policymakers pause. Here we are, for example, in the middle of the
climate crisis, and yet investors are allowed to sue governments over
policies to encourage renewable energy. In the wake of the Fukushima
disaster, we have a case against Germany over its decision to
phase out nuclear power. And at a time when tobacco-related health
costs total about half a trillion dollars per year, Philip Morris is
suing the governments of Australia and Uruguay over anti-smoking laws.
And this is just a trickle
compared with the flood of "court" cases that will follow the
new trade pacts:
Anything which promises to possibly diminish
the estimated profits of the multi-national corporations
may be brought to some sort of "court", mostly manned by lawyers from
corporations, and will be "adjudicated" there, without appeal, and very
possibly mostly or wholly in secret.
There is more in the article.
4. Generation Snowden: On Why Surveillance
item is an article by Anthony D.
Romero (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
About a year ago, a
thirty-something sculptor in Los Angeles began working on a bust of
Edward Snowden. When he was done, he shipped the bust to his artist
friends on the East Coast. Just before dawn April 6, the artists crept
under cover of darkness into Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park and installed
the 100-pound bust atop a Revolutionary War memorial.
"We chose to pay tribute
to Snowden through the medium of a bust because that is one of the
visual pieces society uses as a guidepost to who a hero is," one of the
artists said in a video released after the bust was installed.
By 3 p.m. the New York
Parks Department and police had taken the bust down. But the next
morning, a different group of artists cast a holographic image of
Snowden where the bust had stood.
The message to the
authorities could not be clearer: Snowden is not going away. A large
and important segment of our society sees Snowden as hero and
whistleblower — and its members are the future.
I say. Here is a
sketch of the evidence that Romero quotes: There was a global poll that
questioned millenials (defined as: 18-34 year olds) with the following
The poll showed that in
every country surveyed — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Britain,
Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.S. — millennials
have an overwhelmingly positive opinion of Snowden. In continental
Europe, 78% to 86% has positive opinions of him. Even in the United
States, where the Justice Department has charged Snowden with
espionage, 56% view him favorably.
The poll also found that
millennials believe Snowden's disclosures will benefit privacy rights.
In Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, 54% to 59% said they
thought Snowden's actions would lead to more privacy protection.
By 2020, [millennials] will represent 1 out
of 3 adults. As they grow in influence, so too will the demand to rein
in the surveillance state.
Really? I wish my faith was
as strong as Romero's, but it isn't. And since this really is a matter
of faith, I think my position is both more unpleasant and more
Unless there will be
a major grass roots effort in favor of privacy and against
surveillance - for which I currently see no evidence - mass
surveillance will continue, simply because it promises all power to the few
who govern, and there is no effective opposition against it with any
strength in the American Senate and House.
5. The Canadian Ministry of "Truth": "Reality Is
Whatever We Say It Is"
item today is an article by Fred Guerin on Truth-out:
starts as follows:
is a good and fairly long piece by a Canadian philosopher, that is
mostly dedicated to developments in Canada, that is following the
United States in its program of universal and constant surveillance of
One of the frightening
aspects of ideology is how easy its governing principles can be
obscured behind tautologies and reality-denying affirmations that are
then effortlessly absorbed en masse simply through continuous
Ideology articulated in
tautological form is what Orwell captured in his novel 1984
when he reduced Ingsoc (English Socialism) to three infamous slogans
intended to shape and discipline the minds of Oceania's
citizens: War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.
These statements appear to say two different things, but they actually
say the same thing twice. They cannot be factually or logically refuted
because they are self-reinforcing statements that point back to
themselves. However, they do play an essential role in what Noam
Chomsky has called the "manufacture of consent."
In Orwell's dystopia,
such inversions of the meaning of words are precisely intended to
render language, and indeed truth and reality, entirely malleable,
subject to the arbitrariness of those who happen to be in power. During
one of his torture sessions, Winston Smith objects that there is a real
world outside the world of the Party. His torturer, O'Brien, assures
him that "reality is simply whatever the party says it is."
Well - here is a bit of personal history (which you may skip if thus
inclined, and continue here):
In fact, I - and everyone who studied in the University of Amsterdam -
was taught the same, at least in the years from 1977-2005, but
it wasn't called by any ugly name like "totalitarianism", and it
certainly wasn't called "nonsense" or "brain rot": it was hailed as a
very liberating postmodernism,
and summed up as follows:
first thesis was pronounced (exactly as quoted, though in Dutch:
"Iedereen weet dat waarheid niet bestaat") in a special public
lecture for the opening of the academic year, that was ordained and
supported by the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam, in
August of 1978.
Almost no one protested. The very few who did
- such as myself - were promptly called "fascists" by the many who
loved these teachings. And the teachings were very soon embraced by
most students and most of the staff because of their enormous
liberating implications :
As truth did not exist, anything whatsoever could be maintained (and
was!); as everyone is of equal value absolutely no one is any better
than the worst, the most sadistic, or the most stupid (and no
one is any better than the speaker!); and as all morals are relative,
the Soviet Union (that still existed) could be praised as a wholly
equivalent and quite admirable human experiment that was of equal
value as anything else (and it was, by the academic staff!). 
The only student who firmly resisted this was ... my self, who was ill
all the time, but who did create a student party that got elected in
the University Parliament with one member (not me: I was too ill), that
was opposed (at least occasionally) as "a fascist" organization by the
12 or so members of the ASVA, and indeed it also did not command enough
votes to make any change.
In the end - after some 4 years in which I did not study, again
because of illness - I was invited to speak to my
fellow students and the academic staff of the faculty for philosophy,
which I accepted, and in which speech I only asked - indeed
quite critical - questions.
The response was that 16 academic "philosophers" (plus students) screamed
at me that I was "a dirty fascist", and when it was also
screamed at me that I was "a terrorist" (because the staff lost their
discussions with me) I stopped - and a few days later I was informed by
letter that I was cast out from the faculty of philosophy and
was denied the right to do an M.A. in it (which I had nearly
When I appealed to the Board of Directors, its leader drs. Jan-Karel
Gevers and his second in command dr. Roel Poppe confirmed the
decision; added that I had to go to a non-Dutch
university for an M.A. and showed they were sick sadists by assuring me
that they "had taken your serious illness very seriously".
Well...because I also had a B.A. in psychology, and was not cast out of
the university, in the end I got a - very brilliant - M.A. in
psychology in the University of Amsterdam.
Why do I tell these facts?
Firstly, because they happened, and they cost me, together with my
illness, my chances on a career and on earning very well.  And secondly, and more importantly:
I have studied in a totalitarian
leftist university, which I also finished better than anyone
else, and it has taught me how extremely easy it is to mislead even
"the most intelligent" and the most radical persons with insane
bullshit, utter trash, and complete nonsense, and especially if
gives them the chance of indulging their personal problems.
Here is a last bit by Fred Guerin:
Finally, here in
Canada, we will soon be asked to submit to the necessity of an
anti-terrorism law that is ostensibly aimed at potential terrorists and
"violent jihadists." However, this is not legislation meant to address
the external threat posed by terrorists, but the cynical employment of
law as a tool for citizen control, political repression and population
domestication. In other words, the vague and overly broad language of Bill C-51 is specifically intended to create a
chilling effect on any Canadian citizen who might have the audacity to
show their disagreement with government policy or corporate kleptocracy
by engaging in grass-roots dissent, protest or civil disobedience.
hope the Canadians will succeed, but as my story showed I do not think
that is very likely.
 Those who are not Dutch should realize that from
1971-1995 all Dutch universities were given to the students,
and worked under a parliamentary sort of system where the University
Parliament (Dutch: "Universiteitsraad") was the leading
institution, as is the Parliament in the state, and where every
faculty again had its own parliament (Dutch: "Faculteitsraad"). For
both parliaments there were yearly elections amongst the
students, the academic staff and the rest who worked in the university,
with 1 man 1 vote for everyone, whether he or she
was a student, a professor or a cleaner of toilets. This meant that the
"communist" student party the ASVA had the absolute majority
everywhere from 1977-1995 and ruled supreme, together with the
"socialist" Board of Directors who always were managers from the Dutch
More precisely: From 1977-1982 most students were either members of the
communist party or were extreme leftists of some other kind, and from
1983 onwards most students (including quite a few who were communists
converted to postmodernism,
that held sway until well in the 2000s.
And the reason I do not say anything about the Dutch universities after
2005 is that I did not visit the University of Amsterdam since 2004
(which I did regularly do since 1971: I have a lot of experience with
But the University
certainly did not improve.
 Around 1990 I was quite
seriously told by several students of psychology that they were
the equals of Isaac Newton because everyone was equal
to anyone else. When I asked about their enormous mathematical and
physical talents, they assured me that they must have them (everybody
being equal, after all), but that their personal preferences
had moved them not to use these talents...
And this is a wholly true story (as is the fact that in 1984
the average IQ was a measly 115 among the students of the university).
 No one else was thrown out of a
university for saying honestly what he thought since WW II ended (and I always was and am an anti-fascist,
just like my - communist - parents and grandparents).
 Instead, I am one of the
poorest Dutchmen since I never had an income that was as high
as the legal minimum wage.